Castles of Steel: Theorycrafting the Royal Navy Battleship Lines

Robby Kasparic 2016-10-13

“We may now picture this great Fleet, with its flotillas and cruisers, steaming slowly out of Portland Harbour, squadron by squadron, scores of gigantic castles of steel wending their way across the misty, shining sea, like giants bowed in anxious thought. We may picture them again as darkness fell, eighteen miles of warships running at high speed and in absolute blackness through the narrow Straits, bearing with them into the broad waters of the North the safeguard of considerable affairs….The King’s ships were at sea.”

–Sir Winston Churchill recalling the deployment of the Royal Navy from its peacetime bases to Scapa Flow at the outset of the Great War.

As the release of the first Royal Navy line for World of Warships draws near (perhaps not a quickly as originally thought), there is still no confirmed sighting of detailed plans for the Royal Navy battleships. The single existing Royal Navy battleship, the premium HMS Warspite, is one of my favorite ships in the game. So I felt the time was right to dust off my copy of Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships and add a healthy dose of historical-based speculation to what the Royal Navy battleships will look like in World of Warships. A quick note, when a class or ship name would have applied to multiple hulls the difference is noted by the year in which the keel was laid. Some sources may use the completion date instead.

Battleships and Battlecruisers

The Royal Navy offers something unique to the nations of World of Warships. It is the only one that has a realism-based possibility to have two complete battleships lines rather than one main line containing a mixture of Battleships and Battlecruisers along with various stub branches. One of these lines would be made of the battleships and the other of battlecruisers. There is also a small sub-branch that can be created around ships acquired during the First World War.

Tier 3

hms-dreadnaught

HMS Dreadnaught early in her life.

Battleship: HMS Dreadnought OR Bellerophon class. Based on the lines for the existing nations, it is extremely likely that the Royal Navy battleship line will start with HMS Dreadnought herself. The lines have always begun with the first all-big-gun class, so this introduces a minor wrinkle in that Dreadnought was a one-off. If Wargaming decides to hold Dreadnought herself back as a premium or otherwise out-of-tree ship, her close sister in the Bellerophon class would take this spot. Both are quite similar and would have no discernible difference in playstyle. It would be reasonable to expect similar performance to Nassau and Kawachi.

Battlecruiser: Invincible Class. Much like the battleship line, the Battlecruiser line will likely begin with the first historical example of the type. Performance would likely be similar to the Nassau and Kawachi, but with ~3knts of additional speed in place of heavy armor.

Premiums: If HMS Dreadnaught is not the standard tier three, she will likely be a premium in the same tier. Additionally, I would not be surprised if one of the Indefatigables such as HMNZS New Zealand shows up here.

Tier 4

colossus-class

HMS Colossus, photograph likely taken pre- or early WWI.

Battleship: Colossus class. Tier four is traditionally occupied by the most modern 12”/305mm armed ship of the pre-WWI era and for the Royal Navy it will be no different. Performance would be similar to the Kaiser from the German line.

World War One Oddity: HMS Agincourt. Originally ordered by Brazil before being purchased by the Ottomans and finally seized by the Royal Navy, Agincourt marks the beginning of the WWI Oddities sub-line as it is the only 12” armed ship in the category. Given her status as one of the “turret farms” it is only fair to compare her to the other such ship in the game, Wyoming. Its likely Agincourt would play similar to her American counterpart.

Battlecruiser: Lion class (1909). I can already hear the pitchforks gathering. I’ve chosen Lion here for two reasons. First, the Indefatigable class (direct successors to the Invincibles) is not going to offer any major improvements that make it stand out as a candidate for the next tier. Second, the armor is laughably bad, so while Lion is going to be quite good a punching someone, she cannot take hits in reply as well. I would expect performance here similar to a blend of the two tier four Japanese battleships, the premium Ishizuchi and the regular Myogi.

Premiums: In addition to the possibility of the one-off HMS Neptune, HMS Queen Mary could fit in here, as she is more of a half-sister to Lion then a true member of the same class.

Tier 5

hms-tiger

HMS Tiger, likely a post-war photograph.

Battleship: Iron Duke class. I’ve picked Iron Duke over the other Royal Navy 13.5” armed battleships for this slot due to her being the most modern. She is a good fit for the tier as her performance would be similar to her real-world contemporaries New York and König. It also follows the general trend for the tier being the older or oldest ship kept under the Washington Naval Treaty, only one member of the King George V (1911) class was kept over the Iron Dukes.

World War One Oddity: HMS Erin OR HMS Canada: Like Agincourt, both of these ships were acquired by the Royal Navy while under build for another nation (the Ottomans and Chile respectively). Nether ship is going to offer much difference in how well it will fit at tier, but I give the advantage to HMS Canada as her sister was eventually completed as the carrier HMS Eagle. Since any future carrier line is a good bet to include Eagle, it’s a safe bet that Wargame would have good model information for both ships.

Battlecruiser: HMS Tiger. I’ve chosen to put Tiger at tier five because she is quite similar to the Kongo in the Japanese line. Considering this similarity, you could expect similar stock performance. Tiger never received as extensive a refit as the various Kongo’s, so she would likely have inferior upgraded performance. As with Iron Duke, Tiger was also the oldest battlecruiser kept under the Washington Naval Treaty.

Premiums: Ether HMS Erin or HMS Canada would make good premiums at this tier, depending on which one fills out the oddities sub-tree. This would also be a good spot for the light battlecruisers of the Courageous class to make an appearance. Additionally, the King George V (1911) ship HMS Centurion could show up here as she was the longest serving member of the class.

Tier 6

hms-mayla-1915

HMS Malaya, a Queen Elizabeth class battleship, shortly after completion in 1915.

Battleship: Queen Elizabeth class. Seeing as we already have a member of the class, HMS Warspite, at this tier it is fair to presume that the class slots right in here. Good contemporary of the ships already present at this tier, especially Bayern.

World War One Oddity: Revenge Class. Given that the Revenge class is basically a worse Queen Elizabeth and a product of an almost immediate pre-war scare, the class slots perfectly as the top the the World War One Oddities sub-line.

Battlecruiser: Renown Class. I’ve slotted Renown in at tier 6 because it’s going be very similar to the Genesau, but with much worse armor. It’s going to rely a lot on mobility and will not take return fire well. This feels like it would fit best here.

Premiums: We already have HMS Warspite at this tier. If there is going to be another, I think it would be HMS Repulse as she was at the time she was sunk.

Tier 7

hms-hood-march-17-1924

HMS Hood in a photograph from March 1924.

Battleship: Nelson Class. Nelson represents the introduction of the 16” gun into the Royal Navy arsenal. Like the premium Dunkirk, the main battery turrets are clustered forward.  I’ve chosen to put the Nelson class at tier 7 due to speed. The hull form and available power did not result in high speed, and such is more fitting for 7 along with the Colorado, tho Nelson is 2 knots faster.

Battlecruiser: Admiral Class. More popularly known by the only completed ship of the class, HMS Hood, the Admiral class represented the pinnacle of pre-Jutland sane Royal Navy battlecruiser thought. Hood’s three sisters were further delayed then the lead ship to better revise their armor in light of Jutland. I think this revised design with successive refits similar to those historically received by the Queen Elizabeth and Renown classes is more likely than Hood herself taking up this slot. HMS Hood could also be put here, with the final hull being the refit she was scheduled to receive before her demise at the hands of Bismarck.

Premiums: I think the ship with the best chance at this tier is HMS Hood herself. If the post-Jutland revision to her sisters is not used, it could also slot in here. HMS Rodney could also be a candidate due to her role in the destruction of Bismarck.

Tier 8

kgv

Unidentified King George V Class battleship.

Battleship: King George V (1936) Class. Another controversial call, but one I think it reasonable. If we leave out the fact that the KGV is armed with 14” guns, her real life characteristics match closely with the ships already present at tier eight. These same characteristics disqualify the Nelson class, as well as projects like the G3s. The guns are a problem, but one I feel is solvable. The 14/45 Mark VII has very modern loading and other gunnery support equipment in comparison to any of the 14” guns we have seen in game, all of which are pre-WWI designs, so drawing comparisons with something like the New York class is unfair.  I would expect the King George V class to have very fast firing and accurate guns to make up for the reduced damage output. The 10-gun broadside can also not be discounted.

Battlecruiser: HMS Vanguard (1941). Vanguard bears the distinction of being the last big-gun capital ship accepted for service in the Royal Navy. Given the relatively straightforward paper comparisons with the already existing Bismarck class, Vanguard should be similar to her German counterpart

Premiums: The best candidate here would be HMS Prince of Wales, ether as she was during the hunt for Bismarck or when she was sunk later in 1941.

Tier 9

g3

Line drawing showing the planned configuration of the G3 Project.

Battleship: Lion Class (1939). Near-contemporary in size and armament to Iowa, the Lion class fits nicely alongside the established tier nines by both construction date and historical characteristics.

Battlecruiser: Project G3. Here we arrive at our first major out of chronological order ship. Despite her age compared to the other tier nine designs, the G3 Project would be quite comparable to Iowa. We would likely see the base variant possess theoretical AA upgrades based on refits received by historical Royal Navy ships, as the original 1920’s era armament would be hilariously inadequate against the air power fielded by carriers at the tiers the G3 would see. These ships would likely have been named for the first generation of battlecruisers.

Tier 10

n3

Line drawing showing the planned configuration, including armor details, for the N3 Project.

Battleship: Project N3. Again with an out of chronological order ship, we arrive at the top of the Royal Navy battleship line. Possessing a large complement of 18” guns and  massive armor protection the only place where N3 falls short is in speed. I can see some minor fudging being necessary regarding the speed for balance reasons, tho given the armor thickness this may not be necessary. Additionally, AA upgrades like those applied to G3 would be mandatory. The planned four ships might have been named for the four patron saints of the main kingdoms of the UK.

Battlecruiser: Semi-Fictional. Unfortunately there is no good historical example which came close to construction for use for a tier ten Battlecruiser. What I can see Wargaming doing here is fleshing out the early proposals for 18” armed battlecruisers that eventually lead to G3, specifically the K2/K3 projects. Given the K2/K3 projects were not advanced as far as G3, Wargaming has some wiggle with regarding these ships. As the G3 and N3, the AA would be significantly upgraded above historical.

The Trees

Battleships: [Tier 2 Cruiser] -> Bellerophon -> Colossus -> Iron Duke -> Queen Elizabeth -> Nelson -> King George V (1936) -> Lion (1939) -> Project N3

Battlecruisers: [Tier 2 Cruiser] -> Invincible -> Lion (1911) -> Tiger -> Renown -> Hood -> Vanguard -> Project G3 -> K2/K3

WWI Oddities : [From Bellerophon] -> Agincourt -> Canada -> Revenge -> [To Renown, Nelson]

Overall this is a very realistic possibility for the Royal Navy Battleship lines for World of Warships. It’s been a long wait, but with the cruisers on the horizon the big guns cannot be far behind. Got a ship you feel would fit better somewhere else? Thoughts on how to plug in some of the classes I omitted? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments

  • Bill McDonough

    I suspect they’re going to start off with a single RN BB line and then split off later, like they’ve done with the dual TD lines for Americans in WoT etc. I also kind of suspect Dreadnought is going to be a premium ship, just for her historical cachet, but let’s hope you’re right and I’m wrong!

    I’m also pretty curious about whether they’re going to keep the RN unified, or if they’re going to do HMS/HMAS stuff. They might split the lines out as ‘British’ and ‘British Empire’, though that’s obviously less likely.

    October 14, 2016 at 5:08 pm
  • Andrew Peck

    if that’s not the battleship line i will be very disappointed, as for the battlecruisers ive got a feeling maybe one or two the the ships may just come as primiums.. great job dude

    April 7, 2017 at 11:46 am